For the past few years I’ve shared a list of places that make getting fall flu shots for kids as easy as pumpkin pie. Who are we kidding? Baking a pie is a lot of work– getting a flu shot is probably easier. It’s also more important. Getting your kids their flu vaccine this year could save a life! Why? becauase “this year, experts fear that the reopening of schools, decreased adherence to pandemic precautions, and surging delta variant infections could create a double whammy: a very serious flu and COVID-19-season” according to NPR. In addition, because last year’s flu season was so mild, “People don’t have any built-up immunity that they might have [developed] from a flu season last year, or from getting their [flu] shots last year, or both,” according to Dr. Brian Conway. This means that this year’s flu season could be more serious than past years.
Flu shots save kids’ lives.
Kids — healthy kids — die from the flu every year. The CDC estimates that 480 children died in the 2018-19 season from flu and its complications. Dr. Laura Sidari published a story about losing her precious 4-year-old to the flu last year; it’s heart-wrenching. As she points out, 80 percent of the children who died of the flu were not vaccinated.
This year, the flu poses a greater risk. Because last year’s symptoms are similar to COVID-19, it could complicate the diagnosis. It’s also possible for a person to get infected with both at the same time. In addition, hospitals normally prepared for a steady stream of flu patients will also be dealing with COVID patients, especially with the Delta varient surging (remember, “flatten the curve“).
Flu shots for kids can now be easier to get
While there is no COVID vaccine for small kids (yet), we do have one for the flu that protects them, as well as more vulnerable people in the population, such as infants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone older than 6 months get the flu vaccine every year, and for some children that means two shots spaced out by a few weeks. And because of the urgency this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expanded coverage; any pharmacist who completes a training course can now give flu shots to children 3 and over.
Also, adults, if you haven’t gotten your COVID vaccine, you can get it at the same time as your flu vaccine according to new CDC guidance. Many of the places listed below do both.
You should always confer with your pediatrician on any medical decision, but if making an appointment and getting into the doctor’s office is difficult, here are a few other places to get your child vaccinated — without the wait. All of these places follow social distancing rules; clients need to wear masks and staff wear appropriate protective equipment.
Where to get kids a flu shot by age
- 8 years and or older: Take them to CVS, Costco, Walmart, Safeway or almost any other pharmacy in D.C., MD or VA (CDC has a vaccine finder app for that) you can make an appointment, but many places take walk-ins.
- 3 years and older:
- 18 months and older: Make an appointment online for any of a dozen CVS Minute Clinics. You will get a coupon for $5 off at CVS or Target.
- 6 months and older:
- MedStar’s 5 Prompt Care locations include Adams Morgan and Capitol Hill.
- Costco Pharmacies can now give flu shots to anyone 6 months and older, and they take appointments or walk-ins.
- Montgomery County holds free vaccine clinics. Check the website, as they usually run from September through November.
Still social distancing? No problem. Many of these places, like Safeway and CVS can schedule drive-up flu shots.